The apostle Paul in Romans 8:31 asked: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Many that profess to be Christians like to assume that God is by their side. None more so than David Oyedepo, Bishop of the Living Faith Church Worldwide and also owner of Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State in Nigeria.
Oyedepo responded with fire and brimstone to critics over the high tuition fees at the university, warning that they were risking incurring the wrath of God. According to a News Agency of Nigeria report, Oyedepo “said one of such critics, who was smitten with a strange plague of chronic mouth odour over the act, only received spiritual pardon following his confession and ‘my intervention before he was restored to dignity’”.
He also claimed that: “The school fees have God’s approval and is in accordance with the quality of facilities provided by the university in meeting the educational needs of the nation.”
Oyedepo’s behaviour does not appear “Christ-like”. Christ asked God to forgive those that crucified him “for they not what they are doing”, while Oyedepo’s was trying to silence his critics, that he accused of ignorance, with the threat of God’s wrath.
The claim that fees charged have God’s seal of approval is interesting. If Christ walked the earth again and established a university, would they charge tuition fees? When the UK government introduced £9,000 a year tuition fees in 2010, John Saxbee, then Anglican Bishop of Lincoln claimed that the hike was against the teachings of Christ.
Christ was a rabbi – a Jewish scholar and teacher, and he never charged for his teaching, neither did any of his apostles. When Jesus sent out his 12 disciples to spread the word, he instructed them that”: “freely you have received; freely give”.
Covenant University is certainly not providing education for free. Its tuition fees range from 770,000 – 814,000 naira ($2,400-$2,500) each academic year. This is a fortune in Nigeria, where up to 60% of the population live below the poverty line. Those fees also mean that the majority in Oyedepo’s congregation wouldn’t afford to send their children to the university. Would God really approve of this situation?
Proverbs 19:17 says: “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” You are not being kind to the poor by excluding their children from your university. Christ reached out to those at the bottom of the ladder. He said in Luke 4:18-19: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor”. Christ defined our “neighbour” as anyone in need and said in Luke 14:13: “when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed”. A university charging tuition of $2,400 a year in Nigeria is clearly not inviting the poor.
Oyedepo argued that the facilities at his institution justified the fees charged. There is no doubt that those facilities have to be paid for somehow. But considering his jet-setting and opulent lifestyle, his church doesn’t appear to be really that short on funds. Church members should contribute freely to the costs of running the university. He should trust in God to provide the money for running costs from voluntary gifts.
Such a situation would allow the university to open its doors to the children of the poorest members of society. Oyedepo should remember that Christ said that: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”